11 Genius Tips to Be More Decisive
1. Sometimes good enough is perfect.At 19 years old, my first mentor Joel Salatin said, “Tai, sometimes good enough is perfect.” He meant that when you only seek perfection, you miss the time element. Sometimes you just have to make a call and say, “This is good enough.” You’re launching a new product. You’re manufacturing something. You’re thinking of writing a book or an article. You’re presenting a pitch. You’re doing some marketing. Once you start hitting something that’s six, seven or eight out of 10, you need to release. Remember what Mark Zuckerberg says: “If things aren’t breaking, you aren’t going fast enough.” If that scares you, just remember: All entrepreneurs you’re competing with are facing the same time constraint. If they go too slow and you act quickly, you win.
2. Decide to escape the status quo.When we refuse to decide, that’s a decision. When I get stuck, I ask myself, Am I going to continue with the status quo, or move forward? All decisions have a cost associated with them. Usually what holds me back is either fear or a lack of information. Get the data you need and never fear betting on yourself.
3. Set your long-term vision.Spend as much time as you need figuring out your long-term vision. Because after you have a clear vision, all the smaller, day-to-day decisions are much easier. You’ll learn that each little decision you make is either moving you in the right direction or will be an important lesson you needed to learn in order to achieve your vision.
—Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva, who just doubled her company’s valuation to $345 million
4. Take your time (seriously).I’ve learned not to let anyone rush me when a big decision comes my way. I don’t mean that you should procrastinate indefinitely. But I’ve learned that the speed of business in this world often makes us feel the pressure to make a decision faster than we should. I have experienced a great deal of respect and understanding from colleagues and competitors when I say: “You will have my answer when I am goddamned good and ready.”
5. Map out why, how and what.It’s much easier to make decisions when you’re abundantly clear on what you’re trying to achieve, why you’re trying to achieve it and how you plan on achieving it. Your mission (why), values and strategy (how), and metrics (what) serve as guidance, bumper lanes and filters to your decision-making. With this foundation, many questions answer themselves, which is arguably faster than time spent engaged in exhaustive debate or mental wrangling. After building this foundation, I began making decisions many times faster.
6. Understand the root cause of your hesitation.Ask whether your hesitation is due to fear (not being prepared or capable) or anxiety (not feeling prepared or capable). If it’s fear, proceed with one easy-to-accomplish step at a time. Learn from each and iterate quickly. This gives you progress to learn from and time to acclimate, allowing you to build true confidence. If it’s anxiety, then jump into a position where you have to execute without the luxury of time to overthink. Make a public commitment. Accept the project you are anxious about. Burn your boats. This was how I started MavenWire, by handing in my resignation to my boss and creating an environment where I had to leverage my talents to succeed. I knew I was capable and needed to leapfrog over my fear.
—Chris Plough, entrepreneur advisor and serial entrepreneur
7. Abandon the pursuit of perfect.Being decisive is about making choices, measuring feedback and learning fast. Unfortunately, analysis paralysis affects many entrepreneurs, and “perfect” becomes the enemy of “good enough to test.” There are no perfect plans and no perfect decisions; make educated choices, adapt, modify and overcome.
8. Make big decisions in 5 to 10 minutes.I have always gone with my gut instinct on business decisions and moved rapidly when I see an opportunity. Although it could look like I jump out of the airplane and figure out how to build my parachute on the way down, it actually goes much deeper. My past experiences and gut instinct together allow me to gauge the risk and decide to go for it or walk away. I never sleep on an idea. Instead, I give myself a short timeline of 5 to 10 minutes to process the information. Next, I evaluate what might be the best possible outcome, followed by what is the worst possible scenario. I ask myself, Can I live with either outcome? If the answer is yes, I move quickly. If the answer is no, I walk away.
9. Break down decisions into smaller pieces.In all of my businesses, we move fast and make decisions even faster. But we make calculated decisions. We break down big decisions into several smaller decisions so that we can test, evaluate and modify if need be. If it involves a new product or service, we’ll look at historical data from similar product or services we have created, break it down into the minimal viable product that we’d need in order to test it, and then poll our customer database to test our idea. If it’s a new marketing campaign, we’ll just split test it against a winning campaign for a minimal investment before launching it. By breaking decisions down into several smaller decisions, it reduces our risk and allows us to adjust quicker.
— Gary Nealon, president of Nealon Solutions and The Rox Group; five consecutive years on the Inc. 5000